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Max Friedrich Meyer (1873–1967), was a German born American psychologist who was the first professor of psychology at the University of Missouri. Meyer had earned a PhD in physics before emigrating from Germany in the 1890s and was a rigorous behaviorist.

He employed O.H. Mowrer as his assistant and subsequently lost his job as a result of a scandal caused by his subordinate.

In his senior year, as a project for a sociology course, Mowrer composed a questionnaire to investigate sexual attitudes among students. It was distributed anonymously and the responses were to be returned anonymously. The questionnaire was accompanied by a letter from a non-existent "Bureau of Personnel Research" which began:

Dear University Student:
During the last several decades it has become increasingly apparent that there is something seriously wrong with the traditional system of marriage in this country. But, unfortunately, the whole matter has been so inextricably bound up with religious dogmas, moral sentiments, and all manner of prudish conventionalities as to make it exceedingly difficult to ascertain with any degree of accuracy the precise reasons for this situation. [1]

There were slight differences in wording between the questionnaires sent to women and those sent to men, but each contained 11 groups of questions requesting the responder's opinions about illicit sexual relations, whether the responder would marry a person who had engaged in sexual relations, how s/he would react to unfaithfulness in marriage, whether s/he had engaged in sex play as a child or sexual relations as an adult, and whether s/he would favor the legal establishment of "trial marriage" or "companionate marriage."[1]

When copies of the questionnaire fell into the hands of conservative parents and alumni, a scandal ensued which went far beyond the walls of the University of Missouri. The fury was directed, not at Mowrer, but at the university and particularly the faculty members who were aware of the questionnaire and allowed it to be distributed, sociology professor Harmon O. DeGraff and psychology professor Max F. Meyer. Ultimately both men lost their jobs, and Meyer never held an academic position again. [1]The American Association of University Professors censured the University for violation of academic freedom, in the first such action taken by the AAUP.[2]

Lipps–Meyer lawEdit

Along with Theodor Lipps (1851–1914) Meyer developed the Lipps–Meyer law, which hypothesizes that the closure of melodic intervals is determined by "whether or not the end tone of the interval can be represented by the number two or a power of two", in the frequency ratio between notes.


  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named NELSON
  2. Knight, Jonathan (2003). AAUP: The AAUP's Censure List.

Category;1967 deaths

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